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Healthy people - Healthy eyes

4 August 2004

Healthy people - Healthy eyes

An apple a day might not only keep the doctor away, it might also help people see better.

There has been a huge amount of publicity recently on the role good nutrition plays in New Zealanders’ health. For example, consumption of fruit and vegetables has been identified as a key factor in preventing diseases such as some cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.

This year’s Save our Sight month, August 1 – 31, 2004, will highlight the fact that many areas of eye health impact on health and wellbeing.

“We are working towards an integrated approach to national eye health within the government’s NZ Health Strategy to improve comprehensive eye care for all ages across primary and secondary care settings,” says Dr Lesley Frederikson, national director of the New Zealand Association of Optometrists.

The annual Save our Sight campaign is supported by the New Zealand Association of Optometrists, Retina New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB), along with Glaucoma New Zealand, Diabetes NZ, the Save Sight Society and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmology.

“We have identified many points of intersection between the Government’s key health strategies and eye health care,” Dr Frederikson says. “For example, the Government’s diabetes strategy intersects with eye care in that diabetes is a leading cause of blindness. It makes sense to us that eye health issues should be included in policy decisions around the points of intersection.”

Dr Frederikson says there are many goals and objectives already in place which have the capacity to reduce risk to sight as well as achieving broader health outcomes.

“This year we are focusing on nutrition, smoking cessation, positive ageing, diabetes and child health.”

The NZAO is hosting a Save our Sight launch in Wellington tomorrow (August 5) to bring together representatives from all key constituents in the sector – policy makers, consumer groups, NGOs and eye care professionals to discuss an integrated approach to national eye health.

The key objectives of the Save our Sight campaign are to:

Reduce preventable blindness through greater public awareness of sight threatening conditions. Highlight eye health as an important public health issue Communicate to all New Zealanders that early intervention can save their sight.

Each week of the month will focus on a different issue relating to eye health. Week one will focus on the key messages, week two on age-related macular degeneration, week three on diabetic eye disease and week four on children’s eye health and eye safety.


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